Rep. Ryan, who challenged Pelosi in 2016, says it’s ‘to be determined’ if she wins speakership

Nancy Pelosi.

Republicans have long painted House Minority Leader Pelosi as a sort of liberal bogeyman, and some candidates in traditionally Republican-leaning districts have issued calls for fresh leaders in the party. | Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Congressional Democrats should “listen to these new members” in selecting their leaders as they assume the House majority next year, Rep. Tim Ryan said Thursday, telling MSNBC that he believes it is “to be determined” whether Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will ascend to the speaker’s chair.

Though Pelosi (D-Calif.) is the only Democrat so far to formally throw their name into the speaker’s race, Ryan (D-Ohio) noted that a number of newly elected House Democrats campaigned on installing a new Democratic leader in the House. Pelosi remains the prohibitive favorite to reclaim the speaker’s gavel she previously held from 2007-2011, but Ryan urged Democrats to heed the calls for new leadership from some of their lawmakers-to-be.

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“I think it’s important that we listen to those new members,” Ryan, who ran against Pelosi two years ago for House Minority Leader, told “Morning Joe.” “They got elected in red districts, conservative districts. They did a heck of a job over the last year. I think their opinions should matter.”

Republicans have long painted Pelosi as a sort of liberal bogeyman, and some candidates in traditionally Republican-leaning districts have issued calls for fresh leaders in the party, calls that grew stronger earlier this summer after Pelosi’s heir apparent, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), lost in a primary to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. More than 20 Democratic congressional candidates this cycle said they not support Pelosi’s bid to remain the Democratic leader, and a handful of those candidates emerged victorious on Tuesday night.

Ryan challenged Pelosi for the minority leader job following the 2016 election, and though he only garnered 63 votes from the caucus, the challenge helped prompt Pelosi to institute new changes to her party’s leadership. In October, Pelosi told the LA Times that she sees herself as “a transitional figure” in the party, but would not put her potential speakership on a timeline.

In the wake of a Democratic wave in Tuesday’s midterms, Ryan has framed the upcoming leadership elections as a chance to sustain the party’s hold in Congress, though he stopped short of saying he would challenge Pelosi again.

“I think asking new members who just campaigned for new leadership to come in and cast a vote for, for you know, the status quo, that’s not why they got elected and I think that jeopardizes the future of our majority going into 2020,” he said.

“My opinion has not changed in the last 18 months the since the previous race and, again, it’s nothing personal but when the exit polls are showing 55 percent negatives for our top leader in the Democratic party,” the party needs to take a step back and consider “who are the best people to put in place to go and campaign for these new members that we got?”

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